'Kill for Zuma': I can explain, says Malema

African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) president Julius Malema is to explain remarks he made about ANC president Jacob Zuma, which have been met by a chorus of outrage.

“We are holding a media briefing on Thursday where he will do just that,” league spokesperson Zizi Kodwa said on Tuesday.

Various youth and student bodies and political parties, including the ANC, have criticised Malema’s statement and called for an apology.

Malema told a Youth Day rally in Thaba Nchu in the Free State on Monday: “We are prepared to die for Zuma. We are prepared to take up arms and kill for Zuma.”

His remarks have been described as “empty-headed”, and “Mugabe-style rhetoric” that made Malema look like a “thug”.

ANC spokesperson Jessie Duarte said ANCYL was an autonomous body within the overall structure of the party and was entitled to articulate its own policies and positions in public.

“However, the ANC wishes to caution against any statements or actions that may inflame emotions or undermine the principled position the organisation has taken,” she said.

‘Empty-headed utterances’
The Inkatha Freedom Party’s Youth Brigade said it was “completely shocked” by Malema’s comments.

“He must also recognise that his role as leader of one of the largest youth movements in South Africa comes with very large responsibilities and that his behaviour at all times should reflect that of a leader and not of a thug,” said the brigade’s acting chairperson, Pat Lebenya-Ntanzi.

The Democratic Alliance Youth said the ANC Youth League was an embarrassment to the country, and its president was politically immature.

DA youth leader Khume Ramulifho said the ANC should share some of the blame for Malema’s statement.

“The ANC should also be blamed because its youth league president is not yet groomed from secondary school level politics to tertiary level politics. He is being thrown into the deep end.”

The DA’s parliamentary leader Sandra Botha said Zuma should condemn the “Mugabe-style” rhetoric used by Malema. She said he clearly intended to incite violence and criminal activity in the event of Zuma’s not becoming the next president of South Africa.

The Azanian Youth Organisation demanded that Malema apologise for his “empty-headed utterances”.

It called on the ANCYL to abide by the rule of law and refrain from open intimidation of the judiciary, secretary general Masikane Mapena said.

South African Students’ Congress (Sasco) said Malema’s “highly inciting” message had left some in the youth movement and South Africa “extremely shocked and disappointed”.

Sasco president David Maimela expressed concern that the statement would erode the historical significance and dignity of June 16.

In an interview with the South African Broadcasting Corporation, Malema was asked if, in light of the recent xenophobic violence, his utterance could not be interpreted by the masses as a call to violence.

He replied: “No, no they won’t do that, the South Africans are not that ignorant.

“South Africans are highly conscious politically. They respect the law and they respect the institutions of our government. The same with the ANC Youth League. They won’t do that.

“There are people who just try and distort and sensationalise the whole issue on the killing.”

Malema said his use of the word “kill” was meant to demonstrate “our love and passion” for the ANC president. - Sapa

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